Rick Santorum kicks off 2012 presidential bid

Rick Santorum joins Republican presidential race: 'In it to win it'â??

Former Sen. Rick Santorum formally kicked off his 2012 presidential campaign in Somerset, Pennsylvania Monday, saying the birth of the Tea Party helped him understand that the "anxiety and concern that [he has] for the future of this country" is shared by Americans across the country.

"They understand that something is wrong," the Pennsylvania Republican argued, suggesting President Obama has failed in steering the economy and has devalued "our moral currency."

"He's devalued our currency, and he's not just devalued our currency, he's devalued our culture," said Santorum.

Santorum, a former two-term senator who lost his 2006 reelection bid by 18 points, is best known as a staunch social conservative. In his address Monday, he assailed the president for his decision not to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. He also lashed out at "federal funding of abortion," though federal law has long barred such funding.

But he also made an economic case, saying Mr. Obama has spent recklessly to prop himself up and has lamented high gas prices even while limiting domestic oil supplies. The president, he argued, has "wrecked our economy and centralized power in Washington DC and robbed people of their freedom."

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The Obama presidency has left Americans seeking a president "who believes in them," said Santorum, surrounded by his wife and seven children.

"It is our watch, it is our time," he added.

Rick Santorum Returns - And Eyes The White House

Santorum was most scathing on the topic of the federal health care law known to Republicans as "Obamacare." He said that the law is the "lynchpin" of Mr. Obama's belief that "America's greatness is in government, not its people."

The health care law, he said, allows the government "to have its clutches to create dependency on every single American," suggesting it will make all Americans be effectively "hooked to the government with an IV." He went on to suggest that the government will force Americans to "give us more power" in exchange for health care services.

"They wanna hook you, they don't want to free you, they don't want to give you opportunity, they don't believe in you, they believe in themselves, the smart people, the planners," said Santorum.

Santorum criticized Mr. Obama for suggesting America was not great before the establishment of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, saying, "America was a great country before 1965." He complained that Democrats were engaged in a "Mediscare" campaign to mislead Americans about Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to transform Medicare into a voucher-style system.

Santorum is expected to focus heavily on Iowa, where 60 percent of 2008 GOP caucus-goers identified as born-again Christian. While he has visited that state as well as the key early states of New Hampshire and South Carolina more than any other candidate, he has yet to make much of a splash in early polls of the GOP contenders.

Santorum stopped his address midway when he spotted a woman in the front of the crowd who apparently passed out as a result of the heat. He walked offstage to try to help the woman while one of his daughters provided her with a chair.

As the woman was carried away from the event, Santorum asked the crowd to "just say a little prayer for that young lady." He then bowed his head for about five seconds before continuing with his speech.

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